9th Session of the Permanent Seminar in Medical Humanities – CANCELLED

Nuno Miguel Proença

(CHAM – Centro de Humanidades, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade NOVA de Lisboa)


And now, what to do with this?


There is a specificity in the clinical encounter that results from the apparent dissymmetry between its protagonists. In most cases, what motivates the patient is a request addressed to the doctor or therapist, by the one who is – or think he is ill and who complains. Complaints due to pain, the expression of suffering, uneasiness due to strangeness or the formulation of a question, are addressed to the doctor or clinical team who supposedly have sufficient knowledge and means to inform, clarify, investigate, treat, accompany or simply relieve patients in the impatience of their requests, regarding what is not well in the relationship with themselves or with their bodies, and that which they are unable to transform by their own means. This asymmetry, which can generate figures close to those of dependency, seems to result in the need to guarantee the rights and freedoms of those who are sick, but also a type of ethical questioning that arises – “before the principles” – from the need to accept the signs by which the unexpected in life is expressed. “What to do with this?”, could then be a first formulation of the ethical question, arising from the crisis or the astonishment of the encounter with life’s impulsive and impersonal background that exists, giving it a personal shape and destiny, according to the possibilities of the human community and the events of the world that can transform it. This question expresses the crisis of each (clinical) encounter that, in the end, is capable of subverting the whole of what we thought possible and upsetting the normal continuity of our beliefs and (professional) habits regarding the meaning of health.


March 12th 2020 | 6 p.m. | Room 2.13 | FLUL

The session will be in Portuguese.

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